Date: 21st July
Harbour Housing’s Creative Facilitator, Polly Marchant, has been bringing brand new activities to the residents of our EVA project with great success.
Polly joined our team in May and has brought in a number of activities to encourage positive mental and physical wellbeing.
She is a certified Reiki Master and has been running reiki sessions with the residents at our EVA project.
Reiki is a type of energy healing originating in Japan and many of our residents at the EVA project had never done it before. However, the response has been fantastic, each of the residents who have tried it, have asked for weekly sessions.
We sat down to talk to Polly about what she gets up to and how it benefits our residents in order to help them with their journeys to independent living.
Polly notes the importance of reiki sessions, “It’s a time for the residents to have a space that feels safe, where they feel protected, and they can just really get into a deep relaxation.” There is a level of trust required, Polly explains, “Reiki can be either hands on or hands off. Hands on is a very, very light touch and hands off is when the hands hover just above the body.” She gives each resident the choice of which they would prefer and checks in with how they are feeling before and after the session to make sure the experience is beneficial.
Reiki has been so popular that Polly does not have enough allotted time to see everyone weekly, so she has had to make a rota to make sure everyone is seen fairly. She has even had emails from support workers from our other projects whose clients would like to do a session.
A weekly yoga session is also on the schedule, which Polly can adapt for the clients’ needs, as some of the residents have old injuries or mobility issues. Polly explains that yoga encourages a self-awareness: “It is important to be aware of your body and being in a mindful state to push your body in a soft way to places you wouldn’t usually.” She hopes to do yoga sessions on the beach over the summer and combine it with a sea swim afterwards.
Another key part of the work that Polly is doing is getting our residents to experience nature. Alongside one of our volunteers, Elaine, she has been leading a walking group to facilitate a change in environment from the residents’ usual everyday surroundings. It has been a great way for our residents to socialise and get to know other residents better outside of their living space.
To make sure that the residents are doing activities that they want to be doing, staff have been asking for suggestions. A resident requested hula hooping as a bit of fun fitness, so Polly led a session in the garden with music and lots of laughter.
The weekly cooking group has really started to thrive; it gives the residents the opportunity to learn a new recipe, as well as fostering community. All the residents then come together and eat what they have made, sharing stories and food. It has really encouraged some of the residents who mainly stay in their rooms to join in.
Art club, acupuncture and cold-water swimming are other activities that the women at EVA are given the opportunity to attend, which are often led by other members of support staff. Variety is vital to making sure there is something each of our residents are excited about or eager to try. The even women gave paddleboarding a go recently.
Polly highlights the importance of a regular structure of activities, “Knowing the groups are on each week means the residents can dip into them, as well as going about their everyday routines.”
“It’s ongoing, it’s growing, but it’s about building the relationship and the trust first.”